Skip to Main Content

Rwanda 2015



fter an afternoon of celebration at a Rwandan naming ceremony, or Kwita Izina, these children, their bellies full, run outside the neighbor's home to play. The front door of the house allows daylight to shine into the otherwise dark living room. As the children pass, we catch their eyes through the door and begin a little game. Making funny faces, we pretend to be animals and puff our cheeks out. And then, laughing, they run off, leaving us in a moment of calm and curiosity..
– Nicole Gaunt á 2009
PCV, Rwanda, 2009 - 2010

Republika y'u Rwanda
Central Africa

Area 26,338 km2 (149th)

Arable 46%

Population 12,012,589 (456/km2)

Gov’t Republic Presidential Multiparty

Capital Kigali (909K)

GCP/capita $1,500

Military 1.3% of GDP (112th of 195)

In poverty 45%

Life expectancy 59 yrs

HIV/AIDS 2.9% (170K living)

Literacy 71%

Languages Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili

Religions Roman Catholic 57%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11% Muslim 5%, indigenous beliefs, none

Agriculture coffee, tea, pyrethrum, bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes, livestock

Industry cement, agricultural products, beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes

PCVs 1975–1993, 2008–present

Peace Ranking 135th

Adult Books

A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in RwandaA Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda
By Josh Ruxin, 2013

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0316232913

Book Description
One couple's inspiring memoir of the healing of a Rwandan village, raising a family near the old killing fields, and building a restaurant named Heaven. Part memoir, part history lesson, the story of Ruxin's life in Rwanda is riveting and inspirational.

Kids' Books

Broken Memory, A Novel of RwandaBroken Memory, A Novel of Rwanda
By Elisabeth Combres, translated Shelley Tanaka, 2009

Format: Paperback, 149 pp.
Age Range: 12+ years
Publisher: Groundwood Books; 1 edition, 2009



Film: Hotel Rwanda
Director: Terry George, 2004
Languages: English
121 minutes – USA

SYNOPSIS: Hotel Rwanda is a dramatic feature film about Paul Rusesabagina, a Kigali hotelier, and the events around the Hôtel des Mille Collines, a sanctuary for Tutsis and moderate Hutus after its owner shut his doors against the genocide. The film was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, and is on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 most inspirational films of all time.


Documentary: Finding Hillywood
Director: Leah Warshawski, Christopher Towey, 2013
Languages: English

IMDB SYNOPSIS: Set amongst the hills of Rwanda, Finding Hillywood chronicles one man's road to forgiveness, his effort to heal his country, and the realization that we all must one day face our past. A unique and endearing film about the very beginning of Rwanda's film industry and the pioneers who bring local films to rural communities on a giant inflatable movie screen. For most Rwandans this is the first time they have seen a film, let alone one in their local language, Kinyarwanda. Thousands of people show up to watch films in stadiums next to mass graves, and in locations where horrible crimes took place during the genocide.

Finding Hillywood is a real life example of the power of film to heal a man and a nation.


Documentary: Sweet Dreams
Director: Lisa Fruchtman, Rob Fruchtman, 2012
Languages: Kinyarwanda
89 minutes – USA / Rwanda

IMDB SYNOPSIS: Ingoma Nshya is Rwanda's first and only all-women's drumming troupe. Made up of women from both sides of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the troupe offers a place of support, healing, and reconciliation. When the group decides to partner with two young American entrepreneurs, of Brooklyn's Blue Marble Ice Cream, and open Rwanda's first-ever ice cream shop, these remarkable Rwandan women embark on a journey of independence, peace, and possibility. Sweet Dreams interweaves intimate, heart-wrenching stories with joyous and powerful music to present a moving portrait of a country in transition. (Written by International Film Circuit)

Film website:

NY Times review:

For additional documentaries featuring Rwanda, go to:


Jean Paul Samputu: Karibu Mungu

Jean Paul Samputu: Tuzagera

Focus Word

Focus Word for 2015 - "Water"

Kinyarwanda: amazi (ah-mah-zee)
Kiswahili: magi (maa-gee)

Evening star motif from basket
Copyright © Julie Olsen

Become a Member

Join RPCVs of Wisconsin - Madison to stay connected and support Peace Corps community initiatives! 




  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin-Madison is a public charity registered under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States. Its EIN is 39-1669348. It is also an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).

NPCA champions lifelong commitment to Peace Corps ideals by connecting, engaging and promoting its members and affiliate groups as they continue to make a difference in communities in the U.S. and abroad. NPCA is also dedicated to advocating for, contributing to, and supporting the betterment of the Peace Corps. Visit NPCA to learn more